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Israel Adesanya couldn’t care less about interim title, credits Kelvin Gastelum’s ‘Mexican style of MMA’

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Israel Adesanya talks about his upcoming interim title bout against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236.

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MMA: UFC 234-Adesanya vs Silva Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since joining the UFC last year, middleweight standout Israel Adesanya has insisted that he’s not interested in the title.

While Adesanya is determined to prove he’s the best fighter in the division, ‘The Last Stylebender’ sees the belt as an accessory.

“I’ve said this on record before. Fuck the belt. I don’t give a fuck about the belt, it’s just a trinket you pick up along the way,” said Israel on a recent edition of The MMA Hour (h/t Adam Guillen Jr. of MMA Mania). “At least when it’s said and done I can say I was interim champion and I can say I was the unified champion, as well. Everything just makes it for a good story so I’m not really fussed about it. Interim, real, yeah it’s just a belt. It looks good, it looks good on black skin which is why I wear gold all the time, like a Magpie.”

Adesanya, a former kickboxing world champion, will take on Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight strap at UFC 236.

And, although he was highly complimentary of Gastelum’s ‘Mexican’ fighting style, Adesanya still thinks Gastelum is an easier opponent than Robert Whittaker.

“He is very improved, from being an Ultimate Fighter champion to where he is now. His style is very Mexican. You have the Mexican style of boxing and he has a Mexican style of MMA,” Adesanya said of Gastelum. “It’s a smart Mexican style, he doesn’t just brawl or looks for wars. He is calculated with the way he approaches the game. But, they haven’t fought anyone like me, they haven’t seen anyone like me. It’s the same rhetoric, but, when I say it’s just not talk or reading from a statement. I am speaking it because it is facts.”

“I think he’s the easier fight out of the both of them so I’d rather get this one out of the way and then take on Robert the next.”

Whittaker, the official middleweight champ, is currently recovering from a collapsed hernia and is expected to be out of action for the next three months. When recovered, ‘The Reaper’ will defend his title against the winner of Gastelum vs. Adesanya.

UFC 236, which also features a headlining interim lightweight title bout between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier, takes place next month, April 13 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.